Friday, June 21, 2013

Pope Francis Takes Aim At Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's " Cosmic God"

Christians do not pray to a remote “cosmic god” but to the God who is our Father, Pope Francis said at Mass this morning.
Commenting on today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father, the Pope said: “To whom do I pray? To the Almighty God? He is too far off. Ah, I can’t hear Him. Neither did Jesus. To whom do I pray? To a cosmic god? That’s quite normal these days, is it not?… praying to the cosmic god, right? This polytheistic model that comes from a rather light culture.
“You must pray to the Father! It is a strong word, ‘Father’. You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language.”
“We have a Father. Very close to us, eh! Who embraces us… All these worries, concerns that we have, let’s leave them to the Father, He knows what we need. But, Father, what? My father? No: our Father! Because I am not an only child, none of us are, and if I cannot be a brother, I can hardly become a child of the Father, because He is a Father to all. Mine, sure, but also of others, of my brothers. And if I am not at peace with my brothers, I cannot say ‘Father’ to Him.”
He reminded the congregation in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, that Jesus taught that unless we forgive others God the Father will not forgive us. “No, you cannot pray with enemies in your heart, with brothers and enemies in your heart, you cannot pray,” he said. “This is difficult, yes, it is difficult, not easy. ‘Father, I cannot say Father, I cannot.’ It’s true, I understand. ‘I cannot say ‘our’, because he did this to me and this…’ I cannot! ‘They must go to hell, right? I will have nothing to do with them.’ It’s true, it is not easy. But Jesus has promised us the Holy Spirit: it is He who teaches us, from within, from the heart, how to say ‘Father’ and how to say ‘our’. Today we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to say ‘Father’ and to be able to say ‘our’, and thus make peace with all our enemies.” 
Link (here) to The Catholic Herald 
More Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. and Teilhardism (here), (here) and (here)


Qualis Rex said...

The nicene creed is pretty clear on the subject: We believe in one God, the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth..."

There is no dichotomy or contradiction in praying to God the almighty and God the father.

TonyD said...

Truth is rarely the most important consideration. When dealing with other individuals, we are told to love our neighbor. Our neighbors can, and often should, hold truths that are different from our own.

We live in a world with many people at many different levels of progress. People will, often of necessity, cling to different truths. If someone is polytheistic, that is not particularly important. It is possible to be polytheistic and be closer to God than any Catholic. (Such decisions are between God and the particular individual.)

We must be better role models for God and for Christ. Emphasizing truth over love for our neighbors cannot be successful -- in this existence or beyond. More specifically, such positions will be intentionally made to fail - since they are so far removed from God's values.

Anonymous said...

I did not see where Teilhard's name is even mentioned by Pope Francis. If anyone sees it, kindly point it out. However, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI does mention Teilhard a few times in his Introduction to Christianity. Perhaps that is what should have been quoted.

Against "TonyD" apparent contention (hopefully not infallible) that truth should not be emphasized over love, I would argue that love without truth is not love. If it is love it must be truth, no less.

Joseph Fromm said...

"I did not see where Teilhard's name is even mentioned by Pope Francis."

Cosmic Christ or God are synonymous with de Chardin. Pope Francis is offering a conventional long held critique of Tielhardism.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is quite a stretch linking Pope Francis' statements to a criticism of Teilhard de Chardin. I believe this assertion is off base for many reasons.

First, the context of Pope Francis' criticism was directed at a non-incarnational, pagan, polytheistic belief. This is exactly contrary to Teilhard de Chardin who built his theology around the Christian understanding of a monotheistic triune God who was active in the universe. As Pope Francis said in his homily "You must pray to Him who generated you, who gave you life. Not to everyone: everyone is too anonymous. To you. To me. To the person who accompanies you on your journey: He knows all about your life. Everything: what is good and what is not so good. He knows everything. If we do not start the prayer with this word, not just with our lips but with our hearts, we cannot pray in a Christian language".

Second, Teilhard de Chardin always spoke of a Cosmic Christ (harkening back to St. Paul, St. Irenaeus and Origen), and never a cosmic god. Those terms are not synonymous.

Third, Pope Francis, for all of his differences in style from Pope Benedict, has never deviated from the Christian message of Pope Benedict. Pope Benedict has always placed Teilhard de Chardin in his proper context in Catholic theology, recognizing the fullness of the Cosmic Christ as a central component of Catholic liturgy. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his masterpiece, "The Spirit of the Liturgy":

“And so we can now say that the goal of worship and the goal of creation as a whole are one and the same—divinization, a world of freedom and love. But this means that the historical makes its appearance in the cosmic. The cosmos is not a kind of closed building, a stationary container in which history may by chance take place. It is itself movement, from its one beginning to its one end. In a sense, creation is history. Against the background of the modern evolutionary world view, Teilhard de Chardin depicted the cosmos as a process of ascent, a series of unions. From very simple beginnings the path leads to ever greater and more complex unities, in which multiplicity is not abolished but merged into a growing synthesis, leading to the “Noosphere”, in which spirit and its understanding embrace the whole and are blended into a kind of living organism. Invoking the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, Teilhard looks on Christ as the energy that strives toward the Noosphere and finally incorporates everything in its “fullness’. From here Teilhard went on to give a new meaning to Christian worship: the transubstantiated Host is the anticipation of the transformation and divinization of matter in the christological “fullness”. In his view, the Eucharist provides the movement of the cosmos with its direction; it anticipates its goal and at the same time urges it on.”

There is no reasonable interpretation of Pope Francis' homily that would contradict the many affirmative statements of Pope Benedict / Joseph Ratzinger, Blessed John Paul II and other leading theologians of the past 60 years such as Cardinal Henri de Lubac.

As Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said in 2009:

“By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author”

Joseph Fromm said...

De Chardin was first silenced by the Jesuit order from 1926 and this remained in effect till his death. In 1933 he was ordered by Rome to give up his teaching post in Paris, and a few years later (in 1939) Rome banned his work "L'energie humaine". Again in 1947, Rome forbade him to teach or to write on philosophical themes. A year later, de Chardin was again refused permission to publish his work "Le Phenomene Humain" (the first prohibition having been issues four years earlier). A similar prohibition of "Le Groupe Zoologique" followed in 1949. In 1957, the Holy Office (the former name for the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) forbade the works of de Chardin to be either kept in libraries or sold in bookshops. In addition, they were not to be translated into other languages. However, just one year later, in 1958, de Chardin's writings appeared in Spanish, in defiance of Rome's orders. Also in spite of these prohibitions, after de Chardin died in 1955, his works were published posthumously by Sir Julian Huxley. 1n 1962 a monitum, or official warning, was placed on his writings by Rome. Contrary to some popular opinions, this monitum is still in place.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Fromm:

Thank you for replying. I am sorry it took me so long to respond, but I was away at a retreat at a Jesuit center:-).

In retrospect, I realize my original comment was more polemic that intended, but my original point that there is nothing in Pope Francis' statement that criticizes Teilhard de Chardin stands as does the assertion that leading clerical theologians from Pope Benedict XVI have expressly endorsed the study of Teilhard de Chardin and have incorporated the core of his theology into Catholic theology.

As you point out, the 1962 Vatican warning has not been rescinded but we also need to look at what the warning says (or more importantly does not say) and what Pope Benedict XVI and others have said on Teilhard since then.

Unlike most warnings on theological writings, the 1962 warning did not specify what the "ambiguities" and "errors" were in Teilhard's writings. Moreover, the Vatican did not place any of Teilhard's writings on the Index of Forbidden Books, which was still in existence in 1962. As such, in order to discern Church interpretation of Teilhard's writings, we should look to the leading clerical theologians of the last 50 years. I specifically point to Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Henri de Lubac. The former because he was the heir to St. Peter and a brilliant theologian and the latter because he was a great theologian who had written extensively on Teilhard de Chardin.

Both Pope Benedict and Cardinal de Lubac have spoken very favorably of Teilhard de Chardin and have cited him an numerous ways as part of the core of Christianity. Indeed, the only general criticism of Teilhard that either of them have said is that, as Pope Benedict said, Teilhard had a "not entirely unobjectionable tendency toward the biological approach" of explaining the meaning of being human. Fair enough. Teilhard was a scientist, not a systematic theologian. He was trying to synthesize evolutionary science and theology. The ultimate judgment of Teilhard's synthesis according to Pope Benedict is that "on the whole he grasped them correctly and . . . made them accessible" (Pope Benedict, Introduction to Christianity, Kindle Edition, Location 2840-41).

To read how leading clerical theologians treat Teilhard de Chardin, I encourage you to read the following:

Pope Benedict XVI "Spirit of the Liturgy" (Chapter 2)

Pope Benedict XVI "Introduction to Christianity"

Cardinal Henri de Lubac "The Religion of Teilhard de Chardin"

The summary of these writings are, as the Vatican spokesman said in 2009, "By now, no one would dream of saying that [Teilhard] is a heterodox author who should not be studied".

You can find more information here:

Peace in Christ,
W. Ockham

Joseph Fromm said...

It is my personal view that Feast of Christ the King encompasses a wide spectrum that some of Tielhardism incorporates. Their is so much richness in Ignatian spirituality that one never has to dabble in the experimental or the incompatible.